Patterns and Colouring in Heraldry

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 Colouring Charges

    There are several terms in heraldry which relate to the patterning and colouration of the field or charges:

bordure compony argent and gules

Single row of alternating white and red

bordure counter-compony argent and gules

Double row of alternating white and red

fess chequy

gules and argent

Three rows (or more) of alternating red  and white

apple tree proper

A device shown in its natural colours is termed proper

 a lion rampant per pale counter-charged or and gules

Alternating gold and red

gules masoned sable

A brick pattern masoned in the colour of the mortar lines.


    The entire field or a charge may be strewn or "semy" with small versions of other charges. Some of these patterns have their own specific name, others are just "semy of ..." and the name of the charge used.




goutty or gutty



semy of roses


semy of crescents

semy of trefoils

semy of bezants

semy of hearts

semy of mullets pierced


    Diapering in heraldry has no technical affect on the arms of the shield. It refers to the artistic patterning of an area of tincture, and should be done subtly so as not to detract from the overall design of the arms.

These three shields are identical from a heraldic perspective Diapered field with a saltire lozengy Diapering and ermine This diapering is not so desirable, as it could be mistaken for a field fretty
Three examples of diapering in the stained glass windows at Winchester Castle


Basics of Heraldry